Child endangerment in Nevada is a form of child abuse where parents or guardians place minors in a dangerous situation. Child endangerment is usually a gross misdemeanor carrying $2,000 in fines and/or 364 days in jail. But if the defendant deliberately endangered the child, then endangerment is a category B felony carrying one to six years in prison. And child endangerment causing substantial bodily or mental harm is always a category B felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.
NRS 200.508 states:
A person who is responsible for the safety or welfare of a child pursuant to NRS 432B.130 and who permits or allows that child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering as a result of abuse or neglect or to be placed in a situation where the child may suffer physical pain or mental suffering as the result of abuse or neglect:
Below our Las Vegas child endangerment attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is child endangerment in Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight NRS 200.508 charges?
- 3. Can I go to jail?
- 4. Can I get the case sealed?
- 5. Can I get deported?
- 6. How do I report child endangerment in Nevada?
- 7. When is child neglect a crime in Nevada?
1. What is child endangerment in Nevada?
Nevada’s legal definition of child endangerment under NRS 205.508 is knowingly placing minors (under 18 years of age) in a situation that may harm their physical or mental well-being.
Example: Jack lives in Henderson with his young son. Jack knows that his neighbor operates a meth lab in his basement. One day Jack has to rush to work and leaves his son with his neighbor.
If caught by law enforcement, Jack could be booked at the Henderson Detention Center for child endangerment for knowingly leaving his son in a drug den. And the neighbor, of course, could be charged with the Nevada crime of making drugs (NRS 453.321).
It is irrelevant in the above example if the son sustains no mental or physical injuries and that Jack did not deliberately inflict any mental or physical abuse. All that matters is that a reasonable person would have foreseen that leaving a child in a meth lab might cause the child to “suffer physical pain or mental suffering.”1
Other possible examples of child endangerment include:
- a parent leaving a child with a family member that is abusive
- a caregiver allowing a child to play in or near a dangerous or hazardous location
- a guardian transporting a child in a stolen car
Note that leaving a child alone in a car is a separate offense from endangerment.2 Learn more in our article about leaving a child unattended in a vehicle in Nevada (NRS 202.485).
2. How do I fight NRS 200.508 charges?
The best ways to fight child endangerment allegations in Nevada depend on the facts of the case and the available evidence. Three typical defenses include the following:
- False accusations. It is not unusual for people to get wrongly accused of child endangerment by vengeful exes or irritable children. In some cases, children even inflict wounds on themselves to show they have been abused. In these cases, medical experts may be able to show the court how those wounds were self-inflicted. In addition, a defense attorney can challenge the accuser’s credibility on cross-examination.
- Lack of knowing. A person does not commit child endangerment by putting the child in a situation the person has every reason to believe is safe. As long as the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly placed the child in a location that was clearly dangerous or hazardous, the case should be dismissed. Blameless accidents are not child maltreatment.
- Lack of foreseeable physical or mental harm. A key element of child endangerment charges is that the child was “placed in a situation where the child may suffer physical pain or mental suffering.” As long as the defendant put the child in a safe space that was not reasonably dangerous, he/she should not face charges.3
Note that it is not a defense that the defendant had no intent to abuse the child. Putting a child in an environment that a reasonable person should know is hazardous qualifies as child endangerment.
3. Can I go to jail?
Possibly. The penalties for child endangerment in Nevada turn on three factors:
- the defendant’s history of child abuse,
- whether the child suffered substantial bodily harm or substantial mental injury of a nonaccidental nature, and
- whether the defendant willfully caused the child to be endangered
Willfully endangering a child carries harsher penalties than knowingly permitting a child to be endangered by someone or something else. For example, leaving a toddler home alone is willful endangerment. In contrast, leaving a toddler with an uncle who beats him would be permissive endangerment if the defendant knew the uncle had a history of abuse.
Child endangerment crime
|If the child suffered substantial bodily or mental harm||Category B felony: |
|If the child suffered no substantial harm AND the alleged endangerment was willful||Category B felony: |
But repeat offenders face 2 to 15 years in prison.
|If the child suffered no substantial harm AND the alleged endangerment was permissive||Gross misdemeanor: |
But repeat offenders face category C felony charges:
Note that substantial mental harm under NRS 200.508 comprises:
“[A]n injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity or the emotional condition of a child as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment of the ability of the child to function within his or her normal range of performance or behavior.”4
And substantial bodily harm includes:
1. Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; or
2. Prolonged physical pain.5
4. Can I get the case sealed?
Yes. Convictions for felony child endangerment can be sealed five years after the case closes. And gross misdemeanor child endangerment convictions can be sealed two years after the case ends.
But if the child endangerment case got dismissed, then the record seal process can start immediately.6 Learn how to get criminal records sealed in Nevada.
5. Can I get deported?
Possibly. Child endangerment may be a crime involving moral turpitude, which is deportable. Therefore, non-citizens who are charged with child endangerment should hire an experienced attorney to try to get the charge either dropped or reduced to a non-deportable crime.7
6. How do I report child endangerment in Nevada?
People may report child abuse cases to Child Protective Services (CPS). The Division of Child & Family Services will then conduct an investigation. If it finds reasonable cause of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment, it will contact the police to take further action.
The Las Vegas Child Abuse Hotline in Clark County, Nevada can be reached at (702) 399-0081 and [email protected]. Reports of child abuse cases can also be made to 911.
Note that anyone may contact CPS with tips about child welfare, including people who wish to remain anonymous. Certain professionals such as clergy, doctors, educators, and counselors are mandatory reporters.8
7. When is child neglect a crime in Nevada?
Parents and guardians face criminal charges for neglect of a child when they abandon the child or fail to provide the child with necessary care, such as:
- food and water
- medical treatments, including doctor visits and other medical care
Child negligent treatment is a crime even if the minor suffers no physical or emotional impairment. Merely the act of neglecting a child qualifies as a criminal offense in the state of Nevada. The penalties for child neglect are the same as for child endangerment (discussed above in section 3).9
Accused of child endangerment in Nevada? Call us for help…
If you have been arrested for “child endangerment” or any kind of Nevada child abuse charge, phone our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense lawyers for legal advice to discuss your case. Our goal is to try to get the charges dismissed or reduced. And our criminal defense attorneys are always prepared to fight for you at trial.
See our related Nevada legal articles on corporal punishment, lewdness with a child, and child sexual abuse/sexual exploitation/sexual assault (which can be a category A felony with or without the possibility of parole).
For more information about California child endangerment law, see our article on California child endangerment law.
- Nevada Revised Statute 200.508.
- NRS 202.575.
- NRS 200.508.
- NRS 200.508.
- NRS 0.060.
- NRS 179.245.
- 8 U.S.C. § 1227.
- NRS 432B.220.
- NRS 200.508; see, e.g., Rice v. State, (1997) 113 Nev. 1300, 949 P.2d 262; see, e.g., Smith v. State, (1995) 111 Nev. 499, 894 P.2d 974.